More Micro, Less Animation

Interaction Design and Micro Animation

In my experience designing for both television and interactive, the animation needs to have depth and complexity and allow for discovery upon multiple views by the viewer/user. In interactive design, and especially in mobile the less animation the better. In fact if the user does not perceive the animation at all the first time, or even for a month, I belive that’s a great animation. Then upon discovering the animation if the user appreciates the simplicity and nuances thats the beginning of a relationship. Think Paul Rand and how he designed logos, there was often a “hidden smile” for the user to appreciate after experiencing the brand for a long time. Something that takes the relationship a bit further and personalizes it. Then if perhaps the user then again forgets about that animation and takes it for granted again, even better. Remember, the micro-animation  enhances the experience, the less it is “noticed” the further the experiential relationship is imperceptibly enhanced and appreciated. 

Less is more.


In the end, I had a positive CX experience ordering shirts online from Tyrwhitt First time order. The only issue I had was getting the extra discount using the code printed on the back of the brochure they sent me in the mail. They also provided a unique custom printed customer code next to the discount code. The prices looked unbelievably low for the offer, and I figured they wanted to earn me as a first time customer, so I went online shopping and found some quality shirts.

But the offer seemed like it included a CX test. When I went to check out, the offer code was not accepted online, but the online prices were already severely discounted, so good in fact that I ordered anyhow. Then I needed to confirm that I ordered the correct fit, which I had not, and they fixed the order over the phone very quickly. They understand their product. Then when I asked, customer service about it, they happily fulfilled on the discount code and provided the discount online. There was no hesitation, they almost expected it.

Then I agreed to take their survey (I had also allowed them to track my online experience) and completed both, online and on the phone. In the online version, it asked whether I had trouble getting the discount code at checkout. That’s was when the light went on and set me to thinking that this could be a CX test. Discount codes tend to get circulated and abused online, so pinpointing them to specific customers might be the ultimate goal. Confirming on the phone might be a way to weed out online code abuse until it can online. Phone reps smoothed out the issue in stride.

I think when it comes to UX/CX in the future if the retailer sends out a flyer with a Discount code, customer number, and address, an online match of all three could confirm the discount to the pinpointed customer. Otherwise, the experience at Charles Tyrwhitt was good (enough for me to bother writing about it); customer service reps are sharp and helpful, I ordered four quality shirts, received the additional discount, all with a pleasant English accent. Expecting delivery via well-done follow-up email of my order details.

Waiting to see how their online order followup goes as my order is shipped. Then of course the email drip campaign. Ahhh, the simple pleasures of modern customer experiences.

Color Psychology & Product Design

Color psychology in product design and design, in general, is a no-brainer and should be part of what you do as a designer, especially if you’ve been to design school. What gets interesting is when we start to get into the nuances of different colors, like browns (think Hershey’s brown), and other colors that have to be spot on or they just end up being “so-wrong!”. Getting the color right on screens is becoming much more important as screens are getting extremely color accurate. 

Back in the old NTSC TV days and early mac/windows days color was never easy to reproduce across devices — so color choices were “stark” by comparison. To be different with color meant you had to be very different. That led to more experimentation in areas like crunched backs, silver nitrate films and more. Today color is getting better. and it’s not reflected color anymore like old billboards, color is projected at us in light on billboards. 

It’s a whole new world for designers, and so once again will be very important to designers learning to create products and promotion to be better with color…

Check out this great related article by Muditha Batagoda:


Elaine Lee provides an excellent introduction for designers who are thinking how they might work with AI (link below). Honestly, I wish I were working more in this realm. It makes so much more sense to be working with logic already infused with Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). User-flows and experiences can be much more efficient. Users can be much happier and apps stickier. But to be on this cutting edge requires we work for large companies with ANI resources, like eBay, Amazon or Google, Microsoft, IBM, and others. ANI-capable user-flows will be available to all businesses and to their design teams in the coming years. There will be lots of trial and error in the mean time. Definitely, it’s something to think about and why not check out this excellent primer from Elaine Lee:

Ok, Here’s the Skinny on the Hamburger Menu. Don’t use it.

It’s not User-centric. My (skinny) reasons:

1) It’s generally found in the top left corner of the screen. That’s just hard to reach.

2) It’s generic and non-descriptive.

Note: If you are considering a Hamburger-type menu feature, then:

- design a custom navigation-access icon, something other than a hamburger, unless you are McDonald’s. Make it relevant to your app. 

- put it at the bottom of the page, maybe centered above the tab navigation bar.

The rest is up to you, that's why they pay you the big bucks, right? Go get ‘em!

Notable visual design trend

Nice to see color blends coming back into vogue for visual design. Admittedly color blends and overlays are one of my favorite design styles, many memorable corporate designs from the 1960′s and 1970′s have exploited this approach, and it translates well from print to screen. Enjoy the following article, and accompanying images.

Lorem ipsum, placeholder content and dummy text

I just read a great article on dummy text. As user experience designers, we work with today’s lightning-fast tools that allow us to design with “real” content. So why not?! Especially when doing so can save time and lead to better decision making. Real content requires more effort up front, and a willingness on the part of the design team to throw away “real” looking designs on a regular basis. But it leads to better decision making. if an element is undefined, no matter how small, try and define it. This can be cathartic. It lets all team members know their contributions are important. Engineers care about date formats, field content character limits, table sorting headers, and more. Real content has real benefits to the design thinking UX process. It brings stakeholders together in more meaningful ways. Designing is more meaningful. Context is clearer, and so much more. Check out this great article on the topic.

Are personas ruining your product?

What Makes a Designer Good at What They Do?

Great article on using the right jargon in your app.

24 Ways to Look Like an Awesome UX Designer. Not!

All product team members have stereotypes. OK. That’s expected - and cliché. If you are a UX designer and start to exhibit any fo the following behaviors, stop it. Product Teams, if your UX designer is starting to behave like this, it may be time for an intervention. 

Making the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Great article check it out. Think UX!

Time to Fix Mobile Video Advertising.

Innovation: Interactive Interrupt

A company asked me to review some IP they had recently submitted for international patent protection. They wanted me to evaluate their current product plan for what they called an Interactive Interrupt for Mobile Video advertising with the goal of finding better and more practical applications. 

As their IP was originally conceived, a video clip playing on a mobile device is paused, or “interrupted”, and the viewer presented with continuance options, e.g., video-A, video-B or the original path. Optional paths allowed users to receive additional relevant information. For example, interrupting an automobile video to ask if the user prefers highway or off-road driving. Either response allowed the viewer to continue with a highway or off-road video clip of the vehicle. 

Having had rich media advertising and video production experience myself, my biggest concerns with this approach were 1) costs and 2) complexities associated with having to produce related or seamless complex video sequences. To address these shortcomings I searched for other ways in which the IP could be used more freely and less expensively.

Check out the solution now. Better yet, read on and see it in the end where it may make more sense. (Solution: Click Through:

1) Advertising Solution

First I researched mobile video apps including Vimeo and YouTube to see if there was anything like it being used. The only interrupts I could find were actual video ads. Upon further research I discovered there was actually very little innovation the area of advertising in the YouTube app. The traditional :10, :20, :30 and even :60-second TV-type commercial was still being used. Even worse, preloading these ads on mobile devices increased the interrupt time up to :10 seconds in many cases prior to the ad even starting. This was frustrating, and in many cases while observing users when receiving preroll mobile ads it lead to abandonment. YouTube’s biggest visible innovation in the area of video advertising was to offer a :05-second countdown timer tab that morphs into a “Skip Ad” button. 

The “Skip Ad” button seems to alleviate the issue of abandonment but has a negative effect for the advertiser and viewer. The :05-second countdown to a “Skip Ad” button suddenly becomes the primary focus of the user - not the ad. Viewers tend to disengage from the ad completely while waiting for the skip button to appear. Most ads hardly start in the first :05 seconds, giving no chance for the advertiser to engage the viewer, while at the same time annoying the viewer, effectively wasting everyone’s time.  

This discovery presented the opportunity I was looking for. We could use this “wasted time” to engage the viewer by asking for their input and in responding would effectively “skip” the traditional preroll ad altogether. I hypothesized that if viewers are willing to wait :05 seconds to skip a video ad, we can use that time to ask a :02-second question only requesting a :01-second click, flowing the viewer back to their preferred video, but not before providing a valued engagement for the advertiser. 

As long as the user can quickly clicks through to the next video there is no reason to abandon the app. This solution also solved the issue of costly and complex video production, increased potential ad iteration, reduced preload time, and might positively “engage” ad viewers. Now advertisers have a captive audience from which to gain valuable input in many ways. It could result in a new video ad unit. 

Example: Question appears at the top of the screen with two tap-able photos of cars. Question: “Do you like the blue or red 2017 Camaro?”. The user taps either car image button to continue.
Format: Question along top. Two buttons (left and right) with different colored cars displayed on either side of the screen.

2) Education 

Further research led to a solution for professional certification and educational videos. Because is ready, the cost of transferring into an Interactive Interrupt system would be small. The added value benefit could be large by helping to enforce compliance. Acceptable error thresholds can also be set to force users to re-watch video segments and re-take questions until correct. Also multiple questions could be asked within the context of a single long video clip or “chapter”.

Example: a 10-minute narrated training video with ten questions showing a loud, and clearly drunk, customer demands to be served alcohol. At interactive interrupt question 1: “What would you do here? Answers: A) Give him the drinks so he will quiet down, B) Explain that you can not serve intoxicated customers, C) Ask to see his photo ID, or D) Sing his favorite song.”

Format: A responsive grid of two to six text answers can be presented inside round rectangle buttons stacked or side by side depending on content.

3) Polling Solution

Further research showed that we might also use this same technology for political polling advertising to gauge user comprehension or agreement with issues.
Example: Question: “Due to the drought, is it fair for water fees to increase?” Answers: A) Definitely, B) Maybe, C) A little, D) No.

Format: A responsive grid of two to six text answers can be presented inside round rectangle buttons stacked or side by side depending on content.

4) Cumulative Questions Solution

Answers to a question can lead to different future questions creating a potential loop that creates a better and holistic response from the viewer, like a survey, but more entertaining.


My initial advertising proposal was very well received. I named the service and acquired the domain, designed wireframes, created user flows, mocked up UI and created final user interface elements for handoff to the development team. I worked with the product manager to the point of delivering an advanced MVP for market testing in overseas markets. 

Soon after education-related opportunities appeared, the company decided to pivot, and I was asked to create new UX designs for this targeted market with a product we called TappnED. TappnED borrows and extends TappnGO’s underlying technology for the education market. TappnED has already been successfully tested with teachers working with primary school students. Compliance testing examples are also in active testing with government agencies.

Solution click through - my argument for TappnGO. End Dinosaur Video Advertising in Mobile Apps:

XD Essentials: Button Design Best Practices | Creative Cloud blog by Adobe.

Product Design and UX for Medical

We design healthcare UX for doctors and professional care givers. But these solutions are often purchased by administrators trying to solve a problem facing the organization. So we have to address the needs of both - administration and care givers. 

Some times in this process, the needs of care givers can take a back seat to the needs of the administrative, simply because those needs are well documented and often highly complex. 

But we have to remember that doctors and nurses are on the floor, they make the final call in care, and also have to decide when and where to use your product - or not at all. We have to remember that’s because it’s the doctor’s license and the nurse’s job on the line with every decision. 

Hospitals and administrators maintain tons of risk and responsibility as well. But often in the application of different care scenarios, that’s where problems with products and systems arise. Some times the problems are documented so the issue can be resolved. More often work arounds are creatively invented, because care goes on… 

So when designing products for doctors, nurses and health care providers I try to keep all client stake holders concerns top of mind. Because if we don’t get it right, it ultimately affects the health of the patient. 

Click the link below for a great article on good practices to keep in mind when designing products for the practitioners AND the administrators.

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Text Line Texture by Thomas Hallgren

My first book on design thinking for children was published in 2015. It's on Amazon, the link is below. Hope you enjoy reading it to your children and grandchildren.
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When confronted out of the blue by a thin red Line, our main character, Text, sets out on a fun path of self discovery. A path that leads to a new friendship along the way. For parents who love to read to their children, Text Line Texture is the perfect introduction into the world of text-only books. Children’s Book. Age range: 4-10.